I'm a freelance writer and primary school teacher living in SE Melbourne. I love finding adventures for myself, my husband and our four kids to enjoy. Come along! Heart my articles, subscribe to the fun, follow along on www.facebook.com/WNMelbourne
Have you been to Jurassic Creatures over the school holidays? I have gone twice. My first surprise was that the rides were geared toward younger kids (much younger kids); I guess I had Santa's Magical Kingdom in mind (same event managers) with the larger roller-coaster style caterpillar ride.
The entrance was very impressive. We loved walking through the jaws of a T-Rex, and we were impressed by the outdoor dinosaurs moving, with realistic sound effects (prepare sensitive kids in advance), and lots of places for photo opportunities.
Jim Henson's "The Dinosaur Train" live show should have tipped me off to the younger-audience focus. My older two (six year-old girl and eight year-old boy) weren't interested in the 20-minute show at all, or even seeing the roving characters afterward. I thought my younger two (4 year-old twin boys) may have been frightened by the animatronic nature of the rest, but after seeing it once, I knew they would love it and returned with them.
A favourite of all four kids was the "fossil dig"; they got to chip away at some hard clay "eggs" and unearth a little plastic dinosaur that they got to keep. My first two got the same dinosaur and the next two got two different dinosaurs, so there are at least three varieties in the mix, not that you can choose - they all look the same when you get one at entry.
All four kids also really liked the sand art. Some assistance was needed, and even with small lines, this required a wait, due to the nature of the project. Once you are in at a table, it takes quite a while to get your stickers set up and sand distributed.
More roving characters would have been neat (perhaps we missed them); this may have been a bit frightening for younger participants.
The bouncy castles were on timed rotations. I didn't track time but the session my kids went in was really short. There were no lines, so they just went again. Over the holidays they have added an additional bouncy volcano outside; hopefully they sort out some age groupings for rotations as there are no staff inside the volcano one, and some of the bigger kids could be unaware of smaller children around them.
My crew were done at about 90 minutes, probably because they didn't want to go to the show (but even that was only 20 minutes).
At $105 for a family of four, Jurassic Creatures holds its own compared to something like the Melbourne Sealife Aquarium ($133/family), Melbourne Star Observation Wheel 30 minute experience ($102/family), Eureka Tower with the EDGE experience ($100/family).
We didn't do the "VIP" experience, but I'd venture to say that it is not worth the additional cost, mostly for front-of-line access. The session times have limited participants regardless, and we did not find lines to be long.
So how does it actually work? You pre-book a ticket or purchase tickets onsite for a 2.5-hour session. I found that we did not need the full 2.5 hours, so don't feel the need to arrive before your session time; let the line go in and arrive about ten minutes after your session-start time and you'll stroll right in.
All activities are open for your entire "session", so don't spend too much time inside at first. Take an immediate right, and head outside to the rides; it seems to take folks a while to realise what all is going on, so the rides stay quiet for the first hour or so. Try out the volcano jumping castle, Tea Cup ride, extra-small Pirate Ship, very small train ride (think preschoolers and early-primary). There are also about five or six photo-op dinos out here.
Head back in and let your eyes adjust. Look up, way up, and check out the "flying" pterodactyls. Dozens of moving dinosaurs, including the kids' favourites: triceratops, tyrannosaurus, Woolly Mammoths, and even some penguins and polar bears. Check out the fossil displays and find out when the Dinosaur Train show will start (I believe it runs twice at each session; confirm on arrival). Line up for the fossil dig, then for the sand art. Get your kids to saddle up on the triceratops and poke their heads out an egg.
Merchandise was very reasonably priced, from just $5 for figures and toys, less than $10 for laser light sabres and other games and crafts, and less than $20 for DIY fossil dig and paint-your-own dinosaur kits (take-home).
Parking available at Costco (free for two hours for costco members, must validate parking pass inside Costco), and $3-$10 at Harbour Town.
Have a ROARsome time and let us know what you thought in the comments.
Thank you for your post. I should have read your post before heading out myself with my 3, 15yrs, 10yes and 8yrs. Definitely a place for toddlers and not suitable for 8+. Ticket prices were a bit steep for what was on offer. Kids did enjoy chopping away at the eggs though.